Maybe you were in the middle of a sports game when it happened. Or perhaps you were just getting up from a squatting position. Maybe you recently experienced an accident that injured your knee joint. However it happened, you have found yourself with a meniscus injury and probably many questions. At Rothman Orthopaedic Institute, we know that when patients have a better understanding of their condition and treatment options, they gain confidence for their road to recovery.
So, whether your meniscus injury has had mild symptoms or has caused pain and discomfort, you will find some of the answers you seek in this brief guide.
What Is A Meniscus?
The meniscus plays many important roles within the knee. Made of a strong substance called fibrocartilage, it absorbs the shock of our movement and distributes our body weight as we walk, run, and play. It also plays a protective role, keeping the knee joint’s cartilage from wearing out and causing early arthritis; in fact, it even works to provide nourishment to that cartilage. Finally, the meniscus helps to stabilize the joint by contributing to the way the femur conforms to the shape of the tibia.
This important crescent of fibrocartilage can be injured in a number of ways, which can result in symptoms that vary from almost complete unnoticeable to painful locking of the knee.
What Are My Treatment Options?
Just as the severity and symptoms of meniscal injuries can vary greatly, so can the treatment options. For some patients, especially those who are relatively inactive, the tear can become asymptomatic and may not require any significant intervention beyond initial icing and rest from activities that aggravate the joint.
However, for most patients, the pain and stiffness of this injury do not go away completely. In some cases, they even get worse. Symptoms may include:
- “Locking Up” of the knee
When symptoms like these persist, your doctor will work with you to create an individualized treatment plan according to your symptoms, age, and activity level as well as the size and location of the tear. Common options that may be considered include:
- Arthroscopic Repair: If the tear can be repaired, an arthroscope is used to place small stitches in the fibrocartilage from inside the knee.
- Arthroscopic Removal (Excision): In cases when the tear cannot be effectively repaired, a minimal amount of fibrocartilage may be removed
How Long Will Recovery From A Meniscus Injury Take?
The recovery period after a meniscus injury can vary greatly depending upon the initial injury and the treatment approach selected. If an arthroscopic procedure such as those listed above is performed, you can expect to wear a knee brace for about six weeks after surgery. This bracing, combined with physical therapy will help you regain strength and mobility to return to your activities and sports as soon as possible after that period of time. For most patients, the long-term outcome of these procedures is very good and you can expect to have few limitations after your full recovery.
Who Can I Trust?
If you have been diagnosed with a meniscus injury and you live in or around the Philadelphia or South Jersey areas, expert help is nearby! The orthopaedic physicians at Rothman Orthopaedic Institute have the extensive, specialized experience necessary to provide you with the highest level of care.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact us today at 1.800.321.9999.